Dr Michael Katell is a Postdoctoral Research Associate for Data Science and Ethics in the Criminal Justice System working within the Public Policy Programme. He is a technology policy scholar and a philosopher of technology whose general concentrations include equity and social justice in digital systems and platforms.

Dr Katell received his PhD in Information Science from the University of Washington (UW) in 2020. His dissertation research investigates the ethical implications of automated decision making and the construction of digital identity. During his time at the University of Washington, Dr Katell was a research assistant with the Tech Policy Lab and the Value Sensitive Design Lab.

Dr Katell is also co-director of the Critical Platform Studies Group (CritPlat), a research collective whose work has included the legibility of automated systems, community participation in technology policy, and digital labour rights. In collaboration with CritPlat and the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, Dr Katell led a team at the UW eScience Institute Data Science for Social Good programme to create the Algorithmic Equity Toolkit, a set of resources for social justice advocates involved in deliberations concerning governmental uses of algorithmic technologies.

Michael’s recent invited talks, presentations, and related activities include:

  • “An Action-Oriented AI Policy Toolkit for Technology Audits by Community Advocates and Activists.” Conference paper presentation, Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency (FAccT). 
  • “Policy versus Practice: Conceptions of Artificial Intelligence.” Conference paper presentation at the AAAI/ACM Conference on AI, Ethics, and Society (AIES).
  • “Toward Situated Interventions for Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency: Lessons from the field.” Conference paper presentation, Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency (FAT*).
  • “Data Protection and Privacy.” Invited talk, Seattle Community Technology Advisory Board (CTAB).
  • “Checking Out: Amazon, Microsoft, and the Future of Automated Grocery.” Interview, Seattle Met.
  • “Patron or Perish? Interrogating the Role of Industry Funding in Academic Research.” Conference paper presentation, Meeting of the Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S).
  • “Corporate Expertise and Civic Good: A Critical Examination of Seattle’s Innovation Advisory Council.” Conference paper presentation, Meeting of the Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S).
  • “Surveillance law, harm, and solutions.” Invited seminar, School of Law, Seattle University.
  • “Understanding vs. accounting for automated systems: The case of the Seattle Surveillance Ordinance.” Conference paper presentation, TiLTing Perspectives.
  • “Algorithmic reputation and information equity.” Conference paper presentation, Association for Information Science and Technology Annual Meeting (ASIS&T).
  • "Algorithmic privacy as reputation." Conference paper presentation, Amsterdam Privacy Conference.
  • "The normative force of quantified reputation." Conference paper presentation, Philosophy of Social Science Roundtable.
  • "Interrogating automated hiring and quantitative reputation," Invited workshop paper, Data & Society ‘Work, Labor, and Automation Workshop’.
  • "Digital reputation the production of identity.” Invited talk, PechaKucha Seattle.
  • "Reputational justice: Transparency and equity in the information society," Invited talk, Data Privacy Lab, Harvard University.

Research interests

Dr Katell is interested in understanding how AI and machine learning reflect and reinforce societal structures and worldviews. He draws on distributive justice, critical and feminist theory, and science and technology studies (STS), to gain insight into the interplay between data-centric technologies and patterns of dominance and oppression in society. His work examines the distributions of harms and benefits that flow from the implementation of automated decision systems, particularly where they affect the political, economic, and existential fates of marginalised people and their communities. In addition to being an ethicist and policy specialist, Dr Katell's expertise also extends to surveillance studies, platform labour, and participatory action research. At the Turing Institute, Dr Katell works on developing ethical guidance for government institutions to support the pro-social development, adoption, and use of artificial intelligence and other digital technologies.